I love barbecues. They’re one of my favorite parts of summer. Good friends, cold drinks, lawn games, lots of food. In my circle of friends, it’s usually a BYOB thing and we all contribute something for the grill.
Though often times at bbq’s, while always tasty, the food choices are not as nutritious as you may like them to be. And at least for me, many times I’m eating more than one serving of a burger, hot dog, slice or two of steak, kielbasa, or bratwurst while enjoying my time with my friends. I may save some calories not eating the hamburger or hotdog buns and some of the snack food, but I make up for it with corn chips, cold drinks, and maybe one too many burgers. Most of the time in the summer I’m trying to watch what I eat, and these warm weather days can turn into calorie laden months, especially when bbq’s seem to pop up at least every couple of weeks.
When I have time to plan things out, rather than pick up something on the fly at the grocery store to bring to a last minute barbecue, I often try to bring something healthy – usually chicken. I almost always marinate the chicken in some way for at least a couple hours so that it soaks up as much flavor as possible as it tenderizes.
By far, my favorite grilled, marinated chicken recipe is yogurt marinated chicken kebabs. Bon Appetite Magazine published the recipe a few years ago and I keep coming back to it each summer. I adapt it slightly to fit my needs, but I mostly stick to it. It’s always a crowd pleaser and is very easy to make. You can start marinading it the morning of your bbq, or make it the day before to let the chicken marinate overnight. The yogurt does something magical to the chicken, when even if over cooked slightly, it is still super moist and full of flavor.
Yogurt-Marinated Chicken Kebabs
(adapted slightly from Bon Appetite Magazine)
- 2 teaspoons of crushed, dried red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon of Hungarian sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon of smoked sweet paprika
- 1 cup of whole milk Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and flattened
- 1 unpeeled lemon, thinly sliced
- 2 1/4 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
Needed equipment – metal skewers to grill the chicken
- Mix red pepper flakes and paprika in a small bowl, with 2 tablespoons of warm water. Let stand until a paste forms, about 5 minutes.
- While the pepper/paprika mixture is doing its thing, mix greek yogurt, olive oil, red wine vinegar, tomato paste, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Whisk to combine well. (To make any transport easier, even if it’s just from the fridge to the grill, I often mix everything in a large tupperware container rather than a bowl.) Pour in paprika/pepper paste, sliced lemons and garlic, stir to combine. Add chicken, mix, making sure chicken is well coated with marinade.
- Refrigerate the marinating chicken for a few hours, or overnight.
- When ready to cook, preheat grill to medium high and thread chicken onto metal skewers. Discard marinade.
- Cook chicken, turning skewers occasionally until golden brown and cooked through, about 10-12 minutes.
Alternatively to make the grilling slightly easier and so that you do not have to assemble anything at the bbq, you can cut your chicken into tenders, rather than into chunks threaded onto skewers. This works well at barbecues where you make not cook all of the chicken at once and just cook a few pieces at a time. Most of the time I double this recipe for large bbq’s. Their may be leftovers occasionally, but once cooked it keeps well for a day or two.